Pressel creates her own identity through Texas Women's Golf
April 24, 2011
Sisters can sometimes be mirror images of one another and such is the case for Texas sophomore Madison Pressel, younger sister of two-time LPGA champion Morgan Pressel. From their confident gaits and blond ponytails, to the will and mechanics of their golf swings, Madison and Morgan can sometimes be one and the same. But on Sunday, the younger Pressel broke away from her sister’s identity, becoming just the second Longhorn to win the Big 12 Championship individual title, and the youngest in school history to do so.
“Morgan chose to turn pro instead of pursuing college,” Pressel said. “Just going to school and earning my degree shows that I’m making my own path. Hopefully, we end up in the same place and playing on the LPGA together, but we’ll have gone about it in different ways.”
Madison and Morgan both achieved well-decorated amateur careers before making their decisions to attend college and turn professional, respectively, at the ages of 17. Madison entered her freshman season on the Forty Acres as medalist of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Sectional Qualifier (Wellington, Fla.) and a member of the 2009 AJGA Canon Cup. The back-to-back South Florida Sun-Sentinel Girls’ Golfer of the Year was a three-time Palm Beach County Player of the Year (2006, 2007 and 2008). She enrolled at Texas ranked 40th nationally among all amateurs according to Golfweek Magazine.
At a similar point in her life, Morgan’s amateur career was capped with a runner-up finish at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open. She had also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2001 and 2003, setting what was then a record in 2001 for the youngest player to qualify for that event at the age of 12.
"It was really cool to grow up with someone that I was with everyday and I could compete against. Playing against Morgan always pushed me harder because I wanted to beat her," Madison said. “But at the same time, I want to have my name on top of the leaderboard. I’m trying to prove that I’m not just Morgan’s sister anymore, and that I’m a good player in my own right who doesn’t need the same last name to be good.”
In October of her first collegiate season, Pressel etched her name in the Texas record book with a school single-round record of 6-under-par 65 on the first day of the Stanford Intercollegiate (Oct. 16, 2009). Over the course of the season, she led UT on the individual leaderboard five times.
As much as this weekend’s 2011 Big 12 Women’s Golf Championship set apart the Pressel sisters and their paths in the golf world, it also brought out the similarities of the competitive fire that drives the South Florida siblings. There were times during Madison’s second-round birdie-birdie-eagle stretch on the seventh through ninth holes, one could close their eyes and imagine that is was older sister Morgan verbally willing her ball closer to the pin. From a distance, one wouldn’t be sure which sister was approaching the green as their swings simulate the same head dip upon impact.
“Everyone tells me that we have the same mannerisms on the golf course,” Madison said. “I’m used to it by now. I’ve learned a lot from her, especially how to carry myself on the golf course. Morgan’s always been very good at that. My sister is one of the best on the LPGA, so the comparisons can’t be a bad thing.”
Pressel’s achievement of becoming just the second sophomore to ever win the Big 12 Championship raises another air of similarity between the sisters. In 2007, Pressel became the youngest player in LPGA history to win a major (18 years, 10 months, 9 days) at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“We’re sisters. We’re friends. Yet, we’re competitive and will always push each other to play our best, Pressel said. "But, I came [to Columbia] to win and to prove that I'm the best in the Big 12 - that was my goal this year. As it turns out, I’ll have this memory and this moment with my teammates and coaches, and that’s a difference that will last forever between Morgan and I."